Jews Still Highly Regarded in Europe, Despite Reports to the Contrary

High percentages of French, British, Germans, Italians and Spanish have favorable views about Jews, according to new survey.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Paris' Hyper Cacher, where four were killed in a terror attack on Jan. 9, 2015.
Paris' Hyper Cacher, where four were killed in a terror attack on Jan. 9, 2015.Credit: Reuters

A large majority of Europeans hold favorable views about Jews, despite the plethora of media reports about rising anti-Semitism on the continent, according to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The poll also found no evidence of new or increased antipathy toward Muslims in any of the six European Union nations surveyed. Significantly, the 2015 survey was conducted after the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket massacres in Paris in January, which were perpetrated by Islamic extremists.

In France, 92 percent of the respondents held favorable views about Jews, which was similar to the 89 percent registered in 2014 but way up from the 72 percent in 1991. What was most notable about the poll result was the intensity of the favorable emotion, with 39 percent saying they were very favorably disposed toward Jews – up from 14 percent in 1991.

The result was similar in Britain, where more eight-in-ten (86 percent) of respondents also voiced a positive attitude toward Jews, a number that has remained largely unchanged in recent years.

In Germany, 80 percent held favorable opinions about Jews, which was similar to the number in 2014 but a marked increase from the 53 percent who viewed Jews positively in 1991. Similarly, three-quarters of Spaniards and 71 percent of Italians regard Jews favorably.

The strongest anti-Semitic sentiment was expressed in Poland, where 28 percent of respondents reported an unfavorable opinion of Jews. But even there, almost six-in-ten (59 percent) of Poles reported a favorable attitude toward Jews, a number that hasn't changed much in the last year.

Regarding views about Muslims, favorable sentiment was expressed by 76 percent of respondents in France, 72 percent in Britain and 69 percent in Germany. Those numbers represented an increase of 11 percent over last year in Germany and 8 percent in Britain. There has been little change in France. In Spain, just over half (52 percent) hold positive views of Muslims.

There was a clear generational gap in the responses, with younger French, British and Italians (aged 18-29) expressing significantly more favorable views of Muslims than those aged 50 and older.

Negative opinions about Muslims predominate in Italy (61 percent negative to 31 percent favorable) and Poland (56 percent negative to 30 percent favorable.)

The survey found that anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe is a disproportionately right-wing phenomenon. In France, 37 percent of those describing themselves as right-wing held views unfavorable to Muslims, compared to only 15 percent of those on the left (a 22 percent differential.)

The differential was similar in Germany. In Italy, seven-in-ten of those describing themselves as being on the right had unfavorable views of Muslims, while the same opinion was expressed by 49 present of those on the left.

In Poland, those on the left who saw Muslims in an unfavorable light outnumbered those on the right by 63 percent to 59 percent.

The most disliked minority in Europe, according to the survey, are the Roma, also known as Gypsies. Anti-Roma views are particularly prevalent among Italians (86 percent) and the French (60 percent.) Only in Spain (58 percent,) Britain (54 percent) and Germany (52 percent) were more than half the population favorably disposed toward the Roma.

Click the alert icon to follow topics: